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Chaos reigns at Sanco meeting

20 January 2014
Loyiso Mpalantshane

A THREE-DAY South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) elective conference had to be called off after a fight broke out and chaos reigned at Walter Sisulu University's Mthatha campus.

Five people were rushed to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital after fighting between president Ruth Bhengu and her oponent, Richard Mdakane, erupted on Saturday.

One group wanted Bhengu to retain her position as president and another wanted Mdakane elected.

Broomsticks and beer bottles were also used in the skirmishes. Bhengu had to be whisked away by her bodyguards after some Sanco members charged and threw insults at her. After she left, the Mdakane-led top structure was elected unopposed before the conference was called off.

One of the victims, Pharare Nko, 43, from North West, was hit on the head and back with chairs and bricks. Nko said he ran outside after people started throwing chairs inside the hall. He was met by a "mob" that was baying for his blood.

"One of them slapped me twice and I ran away. Then I felt two bricks hit the back of my head. As I was diving I fell down and the whole mob started beating me. They were shouting that I was full of nonsense by disagreeing with their leadership," he said.

About 50 people were involved in the fight, Nko said.

Hospital chief executive Dr Mbuyiselo Madiba said five patients were treated for minor "soft tissue" injuries and discharged. Mthatha police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela confirmed that Nko had opened a case of assault.

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